A BLOG READER COMES TO VISIT PHF

May 17, 2012

Thursday

Linda

We had a wonderful visit today with one of our readers, Luann Barbagallo, who stopped by to pick up two pints of syrup and to see just what PHF was all about.

Luann and her family are starting their own homestead in a nearby county. I’m not sure what pearls of wisdom we had to offer as Luann has twenty years of gardening, canning and raising milk goats under her belt. That experience will go a long way in starting a homestead. I hope to keep in touch Luann, you never know, we may need some milk goat advice when we finally get to that stage.

We showed her how the off grid system worked and then took a tour of the farm, stopping by to see the princess piggies. The girls were on their best behavior and allowed Luann to view the pig palace set up. She was interested to see what methods we use to raise our pigs since she and her husband will be purchasing their own feeder pigs in just a few days.

We showed her the smoke house where we smoked eight hams last fall, because if your going to raise pigs you have to have a smoke house. She whole heartedly agreed.

In the past few years we have come to know several homesteading families and one of the nice things about it is that we all share ideas. Everyone has abilities that can help another. We are all folks who choose to live a simpler lifestyle, who choose to leave the whirlwind world of consumerism and depend on our own ingenuity to provide for ourselves.

It was a great experience to meet someone from our blog family of readers. Luann, thank you so much for stopping by, we thoroughly enjoyed your visit. Wish you lived a little bit closer. You and your husband are always welcome.

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TAP THAT SAP

February 23, 2012

Thursday

Linda

Last night Sonny and I dropped off fifty- five gallons of sap to TwoLynn’s Farm. That combined with the thirteen gallons we dropped off the other day gives us sixty-eight gallons. We poured them into the evaporator and Lynn will begin to process them today. So we will get a little over a gallon of syrup, but remember Lynn and Sandy will get half of that for their services. Boiling down the maple sap takes hours and requires constant observation, feeding the fire and monitoring the temperature. Excellent maple syrup can’t be rushed.

The temps didn’t drop enough last night to cause the sap to go back down into the tree roots which has made the sap slow to flow today. I am hoping to get at least one five gallon bucket filled or possibly one and half. Nature has its own plan and way of doing things. We all just have to stand by and patiently wait.

Sonny wants to tap more trees, but the sun is already starting to slip down behind the hills by the time he gets home from work. Hopefully he will get a chance to do that this weekend. Maybe he can tap a few Saturday morning before we head off to a pruning class we signed up for. We are going to learn how to prune fruit trees and berry bushes. Should be fun. The class will be held at a nearby farm so I will try to get a few pics and let you all know what we learned.

I know I promised that Sonny would do a blog on the solar hot water heater install but he has been spread pretty thin. We did have a small mishap when he first turned it on. There is antifreeze (non-toxic) that flows through lines attached to the solar panel. When he turned on the pump for the heater and when the very very hot fliud hit the pressure relief valve all the antifreeze blew out and ran down the roof into our rain water barrel. I am not really sure what went wrong, but sometimes good ‘ol Murphy likes to throw his law at us. As a matter of fact he often sends his brother Mayhem over to check in on us. The only problem is Mayhem leaves his gremlin children behind and we end up with a mess. Maybe they turned on a valve or something, but anyway we’ve ordered another batch of antifreeze from the company and it should arrive sometime tomorrow. I have no doubt that Sonny will have it reinstalled and working in no time. Thats if he has time and the gremlin children get lost in the woods.


COUNTRY ROADS

January 22, 2012

Sunday

Linda

Its been another beautiful day back here in the holler. There was snow on the ground but the sun soon melted most of it away. A little sunshine sure makes a body feel alive especially when the January temps hit a balmy forty degrees. Mother Nature has duped us into believing its spring instead of the dead of winter. The sap in our limbs has warmed a bit and the golden rays of sunshine has prompted us to leave the den for some much needed fresh air.

This was a perfect day to use the solar oven. Sonny carried it out of the root cellar where its stored and placed it in a position where it would get the most sun. We put a couple of sweet potatoes inside to bake. They along with a salad would make a tasty lunch.

While our sweet potatoes were baked by sun power we took a little walk down the road that leads to our house. Our best mates Ruby and Moby came along too. Even they get weary of confinement and lack of exercise.

We started on our leisurely stroll with Ruby and Moby leading the way of course and reminisced about the blackberries we picked last spring along this very road. The bushes are dormant now in winters sleep, the vines withered and dry.

With the leaves gone from the brush we could see a leaning stack of old white bee boxes near an out building of the ghost farm. Ancient apple trees with their unpruned twisted limbs stood watch. The old farmhouse with its peeling white clapboards and rotting porch looked tired, but I can just imagine what it might have been in its heyday. A flurry of activity. The bee boxes would have been in use collecting the yellow gold of honey. The scent of lilacs and apple blossoms would ride on the breeze that blew across the laundry hanging from lines strung on the front and back porches.

The lowing of cows could have been heard by the lady of the house as she baked bread. Her husband would have been busy fixing a tractor tire in the barn or setting up his gear to make hay while the children swung from the tire swing that still hangs from an old sycamore tree.

Gas was used to run the lights and the refrigerator, not electricity, and surely a wringer washer is still waiting for the next load. The family is gone now. Only a tired run down farm remains along with rusted farm machinery, broken bee boxes and the clothes line still strung on the front and back porches. Its a sad sight, because it could still be renewed for a another family, but I believe that its time is winding down.

We past the ghost farm and strolled down the hill until we came to the old school house. Its another reminder of past generations who raised their families in this holler. Its cut stone foundation leans and the tin of the roof is rolled back in spots. Its a reminder that time marches on and makes one wonder what will become of our farm when we are gone. Will the PV arrays still stand? Will the house become broken down, the porch swing idly swaying in a breeze? Even so, the signs of life will still be here. The sounds of contented hens, Ruby snoring under the walnut tree and the hum of a dulcimer will forever echo in these hills.

Sweet Potatoes in the solar cooker.

Country roads.

Moby by the trickling water.

 

 


A LADY AND HER POCKET KNIFE

December 30, 2011

Friday

Linda

I may carry a pocket knife, but I’m still a lady. I had told Sonny that I fancied a pocket knife and how handy it would be to have one. Being the good husband that he is, he presented one to me as a Christmas gift. Its just the right size and is made by the Case company. They have been making all types of knives since 1889 and I also like the fact that they are still produced in the good ol’ USA.

My trusty pocket knife.

When you think about what a lady might carry in her pocket you wouldn’t think of a knife as being one of those objects. Chapstick or lipstick maybe but not a knife. Since moving out here I’ve encountered numerous occasions that a pocket knife would’ve come in handy. I don’t how many times I have been working outside and needed to cut the string from a bale of straw, twine to tie up the tomatoes, or cut open a bag of grain. Whatever the job I’m doing I have to stop and run up to the house to retrieve a knife or pair of scissors, because naturally I forgot to grab one before I started. It will also be a convenient tool this spring when I come across a thatch of wildflowers I might want to cut or a vine of briar thorns that grab hold of my shirt.

I have already put this pocket knife to use many times and I have come to the conclusion that I would be lost without one now. It has become a down right necessity. Every morning when I get dressed I automatically shove it down into my pocket where it nestles perfectly….right next to a tube of chap stick.

As I write this John and Sonny are busy working on the solar hot water heater. They have all the pipes hooked up to the solar panels on the roof and are in the process of connecting them up to the hot water heater. Sonny will give you an update soon. And of course if you have any questions he will be happy to answer them.


MERRY CHRISTMAS

December 24, 2011

Saturday

Linda

SEASONS GREETINGS FROM POT HOLE FARM!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year that brings you much happiness and health. For all of you out there dreaming of living off grid or just living a more sustainable life we hope that our blog will be of help to you in the coming year. Sonny will be giving more updates on the solar hot water heater installation and you can still refer back to previous blogs on our solar panel installation and other learning experiences we have had with starting a farm. I have no doubt that there will be plenty of humor in our future as well. There always is no matter what we are doing. So enjoy life, keep things simple, love and take care of your family and be prepared for whatever the future might sling our way.


Solar Hot Water project

December 22, 2011

Thursday

Sonny

Well today with the help of John we started phase 1 of the Solar Hot Water project.  A couple of months ago I ordered everything for the project from the Alt-E Store and have just been waiting for the time to get started.  We finally have enough firewood to get us through the winter so now it was time to get moving on the other projects.

Lucky for us each of the two hot water panels weighed only about 100 pounds each. We were able to move the Kubota RTV up near the mud room roof and get each panel in the bed, leaned up on the rain gutter.  We then climbed on the roof and lifted each up.  Next we secured four mounts per panel and used roofing tar to ensure no leaking from the roof.

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Soon we will get started on Phase 2. This will be fitting the 3/4 copper pipe from the panels to the holding tank and on the the existing gas hot water heater.


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